12 units 2.5 storey linked terrace houses sit within an elongated shape 1-acre land in Puchong, a sub-urban area of Kuala Lumpur. There is an existing wide terrace housing area surrounding the eastern and southern sides of the site. To the north and west of the site we reach the fringe of KL metropolitan area with small villages, vast landscape and lakes.
External of the houses are articulated in 2 form variants expressing different built heights, colors and finish textures to break away the norm of extreme linearity in Malaysian terrace housing design.
Each unit is built on a 6.4m x 33m plot size with 264 square meters of floor area for family living. Due to the elongated site, the development consists of single row double fronting terrace houses. The front part of the house is 2 storey and has an extra half storey at lower ground towards the rear. Residents driving home can park at the front porch or slope down to park at the rear terrace area. Big tree at the rear lower ground floor terrace help gives shade to the car.
Entering thru the front porch, resident is greeted with a front courtyard with landscape. A vertical green planter boxes screening their cars from the interior.
Passing the main door, one arrived at the living space, sandwiched between the external front courtyard and the internal central courtyard. Internal spaces of the house are planned around a central triple volume courtyard void space naturally lit with landscapes. Sunlight filtered thru the rooftop skylight penetrating 3 storey deep into the house, an inspiration the architect took reference from Malaysian heritage shophouse design.
As a strategy to blend in nature into man-made architecture, owners are encouraged to plant trees at the central courtyard open soil planter. Living hall, dining and kitchen areas flanking the central courtyard can enjoy the greenery amidst a bright naturally lit high volume environment. This is a design response to address the issue of dark interior in a standard deep Malaysian terrace house plan.
Each unit has 6 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms. Walking up the precast concrete cantilevered main staircase to the first floor, one can see big window for master and common bedroom opened into the central courtyard. The windows encourage visual connection and interaction between different floors’ users.
Most bedroom has window openings at both side of the wall that improve natural lighting and cross ventilation. External façade of bedroom has ‘monsoon window’, each with middle row horizontal top-hung panels that allows air exchange while preventing water getting in during the monsoon rain.
Overall when all windows are opened up, an effective cross ventilation is generated throughout the house. Breeze from front courtyard pass thru the wide living area sliding door, crossing the house interior and exiting thru the kitchen or bedrooms rear windows. Hot air within the house rises and allowed to ventilate out through the porous ventilation blocks at high roof level above the central courtyard. These natural ventilation strategies for tropical living is often neglected in the country’s mass housing developments.
Windows on the east-west facing facades are shaded with operable louvers with 2 different alternating mechanism. The louvers increase level of privacy and protect against tropical heat while allowing individually adjustable visibility towards the exterior environment.
The window sun-shading louvers, together with the ground floor front courtyard vertical green planter, they double functioned as a system of security protection, preventing break-ins from front and rear facades. This is especially relevant contextually to the suburb areas of KL where break-in rate is high.
On the first floor walking up a spiral staircase passing the external door, resident will reach a spacious flat roof area created as an active rooftop terrace with uninterrupted 180-degree view into the western landscape, villages and the lake.
Water collected from the flat roof terrace and metal roofing surfaces will be channeled and retained in a storage tank below ground floor car porch. Resident can use the water for gardening and cleaning.
The overall design response specifically to Malaysian suburban housing context. It addresses the critical issues underlying how local housing interact with the tropical climate, local social realities and relationship to the past architectural heritage.